Witty Software

Every blogger in the world is required to download Google’s new browser called “Chrome,” and then write about how much faster, easier, buggier, sexier, prettier, memory-efficient, and inexpensive it is. Well, I just did the download, and I’m going to write about how…  witty it is.

Chrome has a feature called “incognito browsing” which works just like normal mode, but doesn’t save any browse or search history, or any cookies you pick up along the way.  Once you close that session, no-one will be able to tell where you’ve been.  Of course, teenage boys all over the world are loving this, but I love the introduction screen:

Google (the company) has a reputation of being a fun, irreverent place to work – their corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil.”  It’s nice to see that they have enough of an organizational sense of humor to let those last 2 lines through.  Can you imagine IBM or even Microsoft allowing those words to appear in shipping software?

It’s also an example of how your business needs to stick with its “personality.”  If your company (especially a hospitality establishment like a bar) has a fun personality, it always has to be fun.  If you’re edgy, you always have to be edgy.  If you’re a redneck sports bar, having a Goth night is probably not going to work for you.

It’s all part of the story you tell.


Googlazon, What Should I Watch Tonight?

I have 998 channels of cable TV coming into my house.  Once you take out the music-only, pay-per-view, and other specialty channels, there are perhaps 200 or so that have content I might watch.  This is a barely  manageable number – by using my Y-chromosome super-surfing skills, I can be fairly confident I have a good handle on everything that’s on, and that I am watching the show that maximizes my viewing pleasure.  (Or be confident that there’s nothing on that I want to watch, and that I should go read a book or take a walk or something.)

Of course, this system isn’t perfect.  I have never seen the majority of TV shows out there.  Usually this is OK – I have a pretty good idea what kind of programs Two and a Half Men  and Flip This House  are, even without ever seeing them, and I’m confident that I can skip them without missing much (that I would enjoy, anyway).  But I’ve also never seen The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or My Name is Earl.  For all I know, one of those shows could be PERFECT for my tastes, and replace House  as my favourite show.  But I soldier on with a kind of blind faith that I am getting the most out of my Toshiba regardless.

But what about when the Long Tail effect starts to permeate broadcast media and there are 1,000 channels?  Or a million?  How will I know that I am watching the programming that is most suited to me?  This is where the Google cloud-mind and the Amazon taste-trackers will really add value.  I predict that in less than 10 years, Google will know everything I ever watch and doubtless will be able to tell how much I am enjoying it by measuring the dilation of my pupils and monitoring my pulse.  When Google detects that I really like a particular show, it will ask Amazon to mine its recommendation engine for other shows that millions of people who saw the one I’m watching also liked.  By fine-tuning its selections over time according to my relative satisfaction, Googlazon will eventually arrive at the ideal mix of programming for my individual requirements.

Privacy vs. Fame

Greta GarboThere has been a lot of hoopla about online privacy in recent years, most notably the news that Facebook had been sharing its users’ profile data with advertisers.  Lately I’ve been more concerned about the other direction: how do I get the Internet to know more about me?

If you google “Stephen Brooks” you will find the previous champ at that search has been dethroned.  Until recently, the most Web-famous of my namesakes was a b-list actor who was most known for being a Star Trek redshirt that actually survived to the end of an episode.  Today, though, the number one search result slot belongs to Dr. Stephen Brooks of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science.  I won’t go into the reasons why his academic page (not even a real site) has passed the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) listing of the actor – the field of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is way more than a single blog post can handle. 

My concern is more around why don’t I rank higher?  I don’t show up in the search results until the mid-50s, and that’s not even my blog. I do much better with “bars & marketing” – #1 with the quotation marks (explained below) and #20 without.  But I’m far far far from where people will know the title of my blog more than my name.  My friend’s blog is also at #1 when you search for its name, “Netdud,” but then it’s easy to get made-up words to the top.  What’s impressive is to get his own name, which is composed of two English words, “Bill” and “Arab,” to register, and he’s soaring at the number 3 rank on a search for his moniker.

If I was really serious about it, of course, I could buy my name in Google Adwords.  But I’d rather that the big bad identity-thieving internet found me by itself.

Explanation for search neophytes:  When you place quotes around search terms in Google, it only returns links to that exact set of words in that exact order.  So a search for bars and marketing,  without the quotes, provides a bunch of sites where those three words appear anywhere on the page (and I end up 20th); but “bars & marketing” with the quotes  selects my blog as the most appropriate match, because I have that exact phrase.

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